De Nijn, Leo. “Kinder- en jeugdpsychiatrie in AZ Sint-Maarten opent deuren: ‘Door corona is de nood aan opvang alleen maar toegenomen.’”, 16 June 2022. Accessed 16 June 2022.

NL to EN translation:

“Child and youth psychiatry in AZ Sint-Maarten opens doors: ‘Due to corona, the need for care has only increased’”

Eleni Van Looy, head of TheA and Daniëlle van de Merwe, child and youth psychiatrist in the entrance hall with the artwork of Tramaine de Senna in the background. — © Joris Herregods

MECHELEN - The brand new TheaA (Therapeutic Atelier), the day unit for child and youth psychiatry, was officially opened on Thursday afternoon on the site of the AZ Sint-Maarten in Mechelen. The new building is located opposite the emergency room. “The need for shelter has only increased since corona. The infrastructure is there, but the financial resources are lacking to expand this project," says Eleni Van Looy, TheA's main manager.

Leo De Nijn

Thursday, June 16, 2022 

TheA started in September 2018 in the Spoorweglaan in Duffel. The workshop offers short-term, intensive, therapeutic day treatment to children and young people with psychological problems or developmental difficulties – for example depression, aggression problems or suicidal thoughts – for a period of 10 to 12 weeks.

“The new construction project cost 6 million euros, paid with the Flemish Infrastructure Fund for Personal Affairs (VIPA),” said Jan Ennekens, general manager of AZ Sint-Maarten, during the opening ceremony. The director, together with Gabriella De Francesco (Vld-Groen-m+), alderman of Welfare, was given the honor of cutting the festive cake.

The new building of TheA on the site of AZ Sint-Maarten.

Unlike in Duffel, where some areas had to be shared, in the new building each living group has its own areas. Such as a comfort room where children or young people can relax, their own kitchen where they can cook with the living group, or a separate garden. In addition, the building also has a common sports area, a multi-purpose room and various therapy rooms. An artistic work of art in the reception area, which artist Tramaine de Senna created especially for TheA, completes the picture.

During the opening ceremony, speakers emphasized that the demand for psychological help for children and young people is very high. “TheA does not work with waiting lists, but with a registration stop. In this way there are places available at regular intervals. But the need is great. For example, we can receive six new young people during new sessions and we have to give almost sixty applicants the annoying message that we cannot help them for the next two months. Some children get so stuck that we don't arrive at twelve weeks and have to extend their care. Due to corona, the demand for childcare has also increased significantly," said Eleni Van Looy, head of TheA and Daniëlle van de Merwe, child and youth psychiatrist.

The interior looks nice and child-friendly.

It remains to be seen whether the new construction will solve this problem. “There are twenty places, the same number as in Duffel. There is room for four living groups, one more than before. In this way, we can provide about a hundred children with the necessary care per year.”

Twenty children from 2 to 16 years old can be accommodated in the new building of TheA. “There are also many questions for toddlers, primary school children and teenagers. Each child also has an individual therapist and a family therapist who works according to the needs. Two teachers ensure that the school part is not forgotten during the admission.”

The indoor play area.

There is also a nice outdoor play area.

Basketball in the garden is one of the options.

Jan Ennekens, general manager AZ Sint Maarten and alderman Gabriella De Francesco cut the festive cake.

The colorful entrance hall of TheA.

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